Road Trip!

One SparkYes, the Green Tech Chicago crew is going on the road and heading down to One Spark – “The World’s Crowdfunding Festival” – in Jacksonville, FL from April 9th-13th. Well, technically we’re sort of tagging along as “alter egos”, as we’ll be there officially shilling for Nature’s Little Recyclers, the “Urban Vermiculture Green Tech Venture” that we’ve recently been running out of The Plant (although we more recently have be run OUT of The Plant, with City inspectors dictating that our composting operation had to be a certain distance from the food producing areas, and that certain distance ended up being outside the facility).

Now, if you’ve not previously heard of One Spark, it’s sort of a mash-up of Kickstarter and SXSW … a five-day festival in downtown Jacksonville, where over 600 “Creators” are featured at 77 venues. One Spark takes “crowdfunding” and links it to an event, with one main pool of funds, where visitors are encouraged to vote (via a smart phone app, and at booths) for the projects they like. The more votes you get, the bigger piece of the funding pie you receive … plus there are additional prizes for being the biggest vote getter in your category, and a system where attendees can chip in directly:

Since One Spark is free to attend, we ask that instead of paying an admission fee, you put that money toward helping the Creators. A contribution of $5 or $10 may not seem significant, but when hundreds or even thousands of people believe in an idea and support it, the power of crowdfunding can be the difference between a good idea sitting on a shelf or becoming the next big thing.

We were surprised to find that Nature’s Little Recyclers is the only “Creator” (again, out of 600) that’s there from Chicago … so we’re going to be having to carry all those “windy city” and “big shoulders” expectations (well, maybe not the “hog-butcher” stuff) in “representing” for our town. Lest you think that the One Spark festival is just something like Tech Cocktail writ large, there are categories for Music and Art (providing a lot of the “street appeal” for the festival), along with Science, Technology, and a somewhat catch-all “Innovation”. Add in featured speakers like Unmarketing’s Scott Stratten, presentation stages where the Creators get to do pitches, a “food village”, a “beer village”, and outside concert stages running till midnight, and you’ve got a party.

Nature’s Little Recyclers is in the “science/agriculture” category, with a program for Building an Earthworm Factory … an expansion of our raising earthworms, recycling coffee grounds, paper, & various other consumer waste, and producing high-quality vermicast for the compost needs of the City’s burgeoning Urban Farm movement for the past year and a half. Appropriately enough, given all the coffee waste we’ve been feeding the worms (grounds, “chaff” from processing, even the burlap bags the coffee ships in), we ended up being hosted by a coffee shop, Urban Grind. For more info on the worm biz, check out the flyer we’re going to be handing out down at One Spark.

Do you recall a while back when we were doing some navel gazing about this blog … how we figured that any two of Green, Tech, or Chicago, was enough to justify covering something? Well, just because we’re the only thing “Chicago” down there, I’m hoping to get some interviews with the numerous Creators who are in the “green” and “tech” intersection of that particular venn diagram … so you have that to look forward to when we get back.

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